Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 9.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada


Q. Which is the third article ?

A. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.

Q. In what manner did the blessed Virgin Mary conceive ?

A. Not by the help of man, but by the operation of the Holy Ghost, who formed Christ's body out of hers, and furnished it with a human soul.

Q. How was this article opposed by the heretics of the primitive ages ?

A. By the Manicheans, who contended that Christ's body was not real; but had only the appearance of human flesh; contrary to the 1st chapter of St. John, verse 14, where he says the Word was made flesh; by the Apollinarists, who contended, that Christ's flesh was created from eternity; contrary to St. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians, where it was said he was made from a woman in the plenitude of time, chapter iv. verse 4 ; by Valentine and Apelles, who attributed to him a body from heaven, and an serial body, which passed through the blessed Virgin, as it were through a channel; contrary to the epistles of St. Paul to the Hebrews, and Romans, where Christ is said to be from the D f Abraham and David. Heb. ii. 16. Rom. i. 3. By the Monothelites, who maintained that Christ had only one will; contrary to the 22d chapter of St. Luke, verse 42 ; where he says, not my will, but thine be done.

Q. Why is the conception attributed particularly to the Holy Ghost; did not all three persons of the blessed Trinity concur ?

A. Yes, they all concurred in that wonderful work, as they do in all other outward performances. But the conception is particularly attributed to the Holy Ghost, for several reasons. First, because it was a work of goodness, and love; and the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the mutual love of the Father and the Son; so works of that kind are ascribed to him. Secondly, because it was a work of grace, without any merits of man ; and the Holy Ghost being styled the fountain of grace, therefore this extraordinary work of grace is attributed to him. I omit several other congruities.

Q. What particularities are there in Christ's conception, to distinguish it from that of the rest of mankind ?

A. Several very remarkable and miraculous, viz.: First, the conception was without the help of man. Secondly, the body was formed, and perfected in an instant, and immediately inspired with a soul. Thirdly, at the same instant, the divine person was united both to the body and soul. Fourthly, from the same instant, the soul was endowed with a perfect use of reason. Fifthly, at the same instant, the soul was made happy by the beatifical vision. Sixthly, the soul was replenished with all perfections, natural and supernatural, that were not inconsistent with the qualifications above recited, viz.: He was without servile fear, but not without reverential fear: he could not be said to have either faith or hope; and though his body was by right impassable, yet it was capable of suffering, by a miraculous suspension of the rays of beatitude.

Q. If Christ's body was formed by the operation of the Holy Ghost, why is not Christ called his son ?

A. Because a son is only produced by generation, which has nothing like it in the incarnation.

Q. How can the Virgin Mary be styled the mother of God, as being only the mother of Christ? The second person has a father, but not a mother.

A. She is so styled by St. Elizabeth, as we read in the 1st chapter of St. Luke, verse 43. Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me. Again, she is the mother of God, as being the mother of Christ, who is truly God. And Nestorius was condemned in the council of Ephesus, for denying she was the mother of God.

Q. Was the Virgin Mary always a virgin ?

A. Yes, both before, at, and after she had conceived and brought forth the Son of God.

Q. How before?

A. So it was foretold by the prophets in several places. Isa. vii. 14. Matt. i. 23.

Q. How at her conception ?

A. Because, according to St. Luke she did not conceive by the help of man, but by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Luke i. 31, 35.

Q. How after her conception, was not St. Joseph her husband? Besides, the gospel makes mention of the brethren of Christ.

A. By a constant tradition, the doctrine of all the fathers, and the decency of the thing itself, she never knew man, either before or after. Hence, Helvidius and Jovinian, were condemned by the church, for saying, she had children, afterward, by St. Joseph; indeed she was married to St. Joseph, but this was to screen her from the law, which stoned an adultress, of which St. Joseph might have justly suspected her, and even prosecuted her, as being conscious he had not known her, had he not been informed of the mystery. Hence, St. Jerome is of opinion, that she had made a vow of virginity, with the consent of her husband. As to those who are called Christ's brethren, they were only kinsmen, called brethren according to the Jewish custom.

Q. For what end did God take human flesh; could the world be redeemed by no other means?

A. The second person of the blessed Trinity, became man, for the abolishing of sin, both original and actual. And, though this method was not absolutely necessary, yet it was necessary to comply with the demands of strict justice, where the satisfaction ought to be equal to the offence; which was done superabundantly in this mystery, where the actions of Christ were infinitely meritorious and satisfactory, and the offence only respectively infinite, as being against an infinite goodness.